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If redevelopment efforts in the Lents neighborhood are hanging by one thread, it’s the project replacing the New Copper Penny nightclub.

Ankrom Moisan Architects are going to the City for design review in May, hoping to secure a permit in July for the two mixed-use buildings known as Oliver Station.

RENDERING SUBMITTED BY ANKROM MOISAN ARCHITECTS - Oliver Station is aiming for LEED Gold certification. One building is U-shaped and the other L-shaped, both with landscaping features within the inside curve, like a courtyard. Theres also a roof deck for residents and podium landscaping around the building.

Oliver Station’s location is at the Lents Town Center along Southeast Foster Road, and includes a former gas station lot across the street from the New Copper Penny club’s lot. Plans include street-level commercial, retail and landscaping, along with affordable housing apartments.

“We are proposing a five-story building for both sites, so it will be a significant difference architecturally for the area,” said Paul Jeffreys, the project manager and principal designer on the Oliver Station project at Ankrom Moisan. “It’s definitely going to increase density in the area.”

SUBMITTED BY ANKROM MOISAN ARCHITECTS - Paul Jeffreys, the project manager and principal designer on the Oliver Station project at Ankrom Moisan, has a vision for the building that may change the neighborhood.

Jeffreys said building commercial and retail on the streets and in the town center is key to creating desire for the location, part of his vision for the project. He envisions the building brightening the neighborhood with walkability: access to transit, shops, gardens and residential space up top, planned to be accessible to current Lents residents.

“We’re hoping it will regenerate the economy of Lents,” Jeffreys said. “The purpose is to regenerate the economy and reinvigorate it to make it a more liveable, attractive place.”

With a commercial ground floor and on-street parking, the top floors of Oliver Station are planned to be 145 residential units — only 19 of which will be leased at the market rate. Six units are reserved for families whose income is 30 percent of the area’s median, and the rest will cater to families who make 60 percent, with many one- and two-bedrooms available targeted for families.

“I’m always trying to change the perception of affordable housing,” Jeffreys said. “We’re trying to do something better, to make people feel they’re living in a very attractive, desirable place.”

One building is U-shaped and the other L-shaped, both with landscaping features within the inside curve, like a courtyard. There’s also a roof deck for residents and podium landscaping around the building.

“I’m proud of all of it,” Jeffreys said. “We basically created a landscaped oasis in the middle of the building.”

Oliver Station is aiming for LEED Gold certification, a requirement by the PDC, who loaned the project $8.1 million. The developer, Chad Rennaker of Palindrome, has valued Oliver Station’s total build cost at $40 million.

The Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area, founded in 1998, decided in 2014 to focus investments where they would have the greatest benefit to existing residents and businesses, and outlined a five year plan. The new strategy focuses on helping developers purchase and develop multiple sites along Southeast Foster Road and Southeast 92nd Avenue, instead of buying abandoned or dilapidated properties in their entirety and hoping to find a developer and beneficial project after the fact.

Since 1998, the PDC has sunk $90 million into infrastructure in Lents that showed little return, but has high hopes for the new five-year plan. The PDC evaluated nine bids before deciding to support Oliver Station and a couple of others.

“Proposals were evaluated according to their responsiveness to the following development objectives: district identity, opportunities & amenities, community partnership, social equity, innovation and financial viability,” said Anne Mangan, communications coordinator with the PDC. “PDC chose to work with Palindrome (the Oliver Station developer) based on its alignment with the Lents Five Year Action Plan and its ability to deliver on the development objectives for the site.”

SUBMITTED BY THE PDC (THE MAP IMAGES) - Oliver Station is a pair of mixed-use buildings planned to replace New Copper Penny in the heart of Lents.

To meet the LEED Gold requirements, Oliver Station has plans for on-site stormwater management, drought-tolerant landscaping, low flow water fixtures, entirely LED lighting, electric vehicle charging stations for residents and a solar array on the roof, which provides power for the building’s common areas. It’s also less than a block from the green line MAX station at Southeast Foster Road.

“The key sustainable feature is that it’s a multimodal site in terms of transit proximity,” Jeffreys said. “We’re trying to make the building feel comfortable in the environment — it’s a tough environment with so much traffic around it.”

The traffic contributes to the dangerous feel of the nightclub’s street because on-street parking was removed from the neighborhood during the ‘70s when the roads were widened. Now, Oliver Station is going to bring back a comfortably walkable street feel to the Lents Town Center.

“We’re adding more on-street parking, which any broker will tell you will improve the economics of retail ... when on-street is taken away, you can tell the retail is slow,” Jeffreys said. “It’s not the easiest place to walk around (right now) — the sidewalks aren’t very wide — we’re trying to offer folks a more walkable streetscape.”

Ankrom Moisan is preparing to take Oliver Station to the city’s Design Commission for review in May, and plans to apply for a permit in July and begin construction in November. The tentative completion date for Oliver Station is February 2018.

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